Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ha! Dream on lady!

One of R’s therapies is provided by a visiting person at the school instead of home because we live out of town. At his last appointment a few weeks ago the principal came to say hello, assuming that Master R would become a student in her special ed class in two years. The rest of the kids were out playing with dad in the playground, and of course she wondered when they would be coming to school. Homeschooling, said I. Oh, said she, and it was pretty plain that she sees homeschooling as a funny little indulgence, and one that i’d get over pretty quickly when I saw how fantastic the school was. As if walls full of cookie-cutter art could somehow convince me. I declined her invitation for a tour and she went back to work. That’s about the last I thought of it.

I received an interesting thing in my postbox last week-three sets of enrolment forms and an information pack from my local primary school, assumedly for the three school age girls. Interesting because I didn’t actually request it. Interesting because I made it rather clear that I wasn’t interested in sending them to school. And so all up it was rather bloody offensive. The husband was spitting chips, it took a while for the steam to stop coming out of his ears.

So I did the only sensible thing-took all the forms in and informed them politely but firmly that I had not filled them out and was returning them because I didn’t require them now, or anytime in the future. The secretary knew who I was from the names on the envelope, so there’s obviously been some gossip about the poor misguided homeschoolers.

Hopefully that is the last I hear from them, but I suspect not. However, if they think they’re going to have an easy time of getting my kids into their school they’re going to get a nasty shock-they’re not having them. Unfortunately for them I am one of the most stubborn, contrary people they’re likely to come across!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Desk, schmesk

Who needs a desk and a uniform when you have the great outdoors, your bikini and gumboots?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Taking pretend cooking to a whole new level

Roast chicken-lucky for Spartacus the plastic in the door broke long ago!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sewing for me!

Based on the recent 'must be more selfish' decision, I made something for myself. Hasn't happened in six or so years (corresponding with first pregnancy/first house purchase). Must do more of it!

A simple pair of shorts, based on the elastic waist wrap pants over at IndieTutes. I liked the style, with the open sides, no ties, and curved corners, so decided to give it a shot.


 And no, I don't have a head-I am not making my blog debut with a picture taken at 6.30 in the morning!

I really like them overall-the comfy, cool but not flashy.I'll make more, but in cotton-these are a cotton/lycra blend pinwale cord, which was the only thing I had in a suitable colour. Because of the lycra I should have faced the front of the waistband (only the back third or so is elasticised), it's too smooshy. But other than that, perfect fit, which is saying a lot for my picky self!

I have visions of a smoky blue pair with a reverse appliqued vine up the leg...........

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Building the mulch pit/banana circle

This was fairly urgent when we moved in-the existing greywater system involved it all running onto the grass next to the house in a big sludgy mess. Not good.

Solution? Mulch pit. The basic premise is to feed all the water into a big hole that you have plants growing around. The plants take the nutrients from the water, thereby filtering it, and don't need additional watering. You can also throw anything organic in there to dispose of-we're sticking to plant waste at the moment, it's a great place for the endless gum leaves.

We'd worked out the placement before we moved in, so I got the husband to dig us a great big hole. He likes digging, the crazy man, and managed this in a pretty short time, even though he had to revert to banging away with the crowbar for most of it. He used all the dirt he dug out to build up the walls around it. We stuck the bananas we already had in straight away as they were looking rather sickly in their buckets of water, and stuck the greywater hose in and emptied the washing machine to check the level.

Once it was all sitting fairly evenly it was time to put all our wrecked moving boxes to good use-it's simply too dry here for sheet mulching. I also chucked some compost in, to give it a nice headstart on the organic base. There's no worries about the water percolating too quickly here, but I thought the compost and boxes in the bottom would slow it further. 

Next, we filled it with anything organic we could find. I was throwing whole saplings and such in there. It was a convenient place for all the weeds around the area, which was previously cleared but then abandoned. So the pit received lots of stinking roger, wild cotton and of course the infernal periwinkles and lots of lantana.

 We're slowly planting paw-paws between the bananas, and will fill the rest of the edge as soon as we can. There's also comfrey on the bottom wall-now i've finally cracked germinating it (only took me a whole packet *blush*) i'll be able to cover the wall much quicker.

 So far it all seems to be working really well-there's rarely any smell and when there is it's very faint, and only discernable when you're right next to it. And it gets everything, even the nappy wash water-I know it's a no-no, but where else am I supposed to put it? I figure we're not touching it and it's well buried under all the mulch. 'Everything' is of course all greywater safe, low sodium and low phosphate, i'm not pouring Draino down there.The main issue is keeping it topped up with mulch, it eats mulch at an astounding rate. To give you an example of just how well it's working, here it is after three weeks of no water (us away), in stinking hot, dry, windy weather.

The bananas looked utterly fantastic, and the weeds are loving it (easy mulch!). It's now fenced, as the wildlife found paw-paws and comfrey quite tasty.

Further plans include
-Filling the whole edge with alternating banana/paw-paws.
-Using the comfrey wall to slash for mulch/teas/compost, much needed with our awful soils.
-Some reed beds on the upper side, for more mulch.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Homeschool snapshot

Building cities according to the number in the square-they took this idea and ran with it, drawing their own complex little places with flowerbeds and fairies!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where’s the cluck?

I spent five or so years being insanely clucky. Even while pregnant I couldn’t wait to get pregnant with the next one. The result? Five children in just under five years, as my husband is just as bad as me. But the youngest is now ten months old, and the thought of ever being pregnant again terrifies me. It’s so strange to finally just not want any more kids. I never thought it would go away. But I cannot think of anything worse than being pregnant again, or giving birth again, or having a newborn again.

I think having bigger kids is the clincher-bigger kids are awesome. While they’re off having fun the baby has me chained to the couch feeding him. While i’m playing games with them the baby is crying. I have had enough of babies. Babies are just plain annoying and work intensive. At every milestone he reaches i’m happy, as it means he’s getting bigger and therefore won’t be so much work!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore him and appreciate him, and take every available opportunity to enjoy him. But i’m oh so glad i’ll never have to go through all the shitty parts of it again.

More of our new friend.

Amazing how much better a real camera does than a phone.

It's about a metre from the front door in the first pic, right outside its front door. It's sort of like a pet now, obviously not a sleep on your bed type pet, but I admit I may talk to it...................

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The homemade baby-10 months in.

Well, time has flown and my baby is now 10 months old-he's even taking a few steps. And he is still a homemade baby! I've been meaning to put in regular updates of this project, but life and all..........We haven't bought anything new for him, and he's cost us less than $200 all up. The original plan was to try for three months, then six, and it's just been so easy we've carried on.

I admit, it's pretty easy for your fifth child-we have lots of hand me downs. But then again, our sole present this time was a couple of 000 bodysuits which the monster outgrew by two weeks old-by the time you pop out number five it seems it's old hat and nothing special. Most people should be able to sustain themselves on presents alone for their first!

So, what have we done?
-We've bought him no new items (clothing, toys, furniture etc). I've made him a couple of things, but only with fabric I already had in the cupboard (which is admittedly not too limiting......). I've bought a couple of clothing items from op-shops, and been gifted with a few bags of hand-me-downs.
-He's completely cloth, he hasn't worn a disposable. Very happy with that, as that's the one everyone says you can't do. Ha! All of them have been hand-me-downs or made by me-again, not too limiting as I had three in cloth at one stage and he gets all my experiments. He has a terribly complicated stash.
-He's breastfed, yes I finally achieved it! He has used two tins of organic formula. One for sanity saving for me, and we're using the second for mixing with food-no fridge means no EBM storage and i'm not too keen on the idea of milking myself daily at the kitchen bench.
-It cost $95 to get his tongue tie snipped. Eek, but worth it.

And that's it.  Proof that babies are only expensive if you read and follow the baby books, and therefore 'need' gazillions of gizmos.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Homeschool Snapshot

Making volcanoes and blowing up balloons with bicarb and vinegar.02-01-05_0027

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The new neighbour.

Yellow spotted monitor (i'm pretty sure, anyway). A rather young one, based on how much bigger the adults we've seen around are. It's taken to living under the concrete and chasing the chooks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In the fourth month........

Well, we have been living the feral life for nearly five months now. There has been masses of hard physical work (so much so that I am now 57kgs and can fit into my pre-kids clothes), lots of frustration and more than a couple of hissy fits. But..........I think we've come out the other side. We are living a very simple lifestyle by modern standards, but are deriving immense satisfaction from it.

Define the feral life?
-300W of solar power, total. You know those standard grid-connect systems to supplement suburban houses? Well, they're 1000kW. Yep, we're on less than a third of that.
-Hot water via donkey. Not the hee-haw type, a drum that you light a fire in that thermosyphons water. You want a shower, you go collect sticks.
-No fridge. The solar is too tiny. Funnily enough, after the first month or so I realised how little stuff actually needs to be in a fridge. When you don't eat meat, have chooks and get an increasing amount of fruit and veg from the garden then it's nearly obsolete. Because it's heating up i'm looking at the little car ones just for our milk, butter and cheese, then we can take it camping too.
-Seven people living in a one bedroom house. Not as bad as it sounds actually-there's plenty of outside space so there's been little claustrophobia.

We've been ready to pack up a few times. But it passes. I can't imagine having to go home anywhere else-it literally feels as if the stress of the world falls off my shoulders and i've come back to my cosy little haven every time I crest the driveway. I think we may just stick it out :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I read an article in Warm Earth tonight, written by Joel Salatin. Others with an interest in sustainable agriculture will know the name. He runs Polyface Farm in the US, a sustainable, humane polyculture that is one of the growing number of places that is showing people that chemical agriculture is not actually all that great.
Anyway, it's about sound science, and our worship of science and scientifically gained results, and our acceptance of those result over good old common sense. I love this part-

What are the new darlings of sound science? Irradiation, genetic
engineering, more concentration, less domestic production, and a Wal-Mart on
every corner stocked to the hilt with amalgamated, extruded, reconstituted,
chlorinated, adulterated, manipulated, constipated psuedo-food.

Describes the stuff at the supermarket perfectly.

And don't even get me started on media misrepresentation of sound scientific research, gah.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I speak for the trees!

Our block has about 300 avocado trees on it. This was rather peripheral to our decision to purchase, but we did decide to look into it to see if it would be worth putting the effort in to get the rather neglected trees back up and producing. After many phone calls and much research, it isn't. Avocado's time as a high return crop is over, there's no way to do them organically and ours are infested with phytopthera and anthracnose. Luckily I haven't seen any signs of fruit spotting bug or fruit fly as we're going to have enough problems with disease spores in the soil and dams as it is.
So, D took his axe and we all played at the Lorax today-he was obviously the Once-ler and the kids were all being the Lorax, yelling 'I speak for the trees!' and pretending to knit Thneeds. We're hacking down the section of them that's closest to the house, as that's where we'd like to put the beginnings of the food forest and the permanent chook run. The quicker we get them out the quicker we can start to rehabilitate the poor soil and plant some pioneer legumes and a green manure. The kids all picked the ones they could find (they're hidden in there above) to feed to the chooks-none of us eat the things.

Now, normally i'm a tree fan, but chopping these down is immensely satisfying. They've been nothing but stress as we've chased down the DPI and other places for info trying to make the best decision. Plus, a lot of them are like this rather pathetic specimen-as the roots rot the branches die back to match the root area. D has been able to push over or uproot a couple of them.

I've never been so glad that something failed!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And done.

Moving is done. It was hell. I don't think I have it in me to move ever again. We're planning on counting up all the different places we've lived in our eight years together-should be scary.

But I don't think I will ever want to move again. It is paradise here. Apart from a few hissy fits (still continuing) about life being just so damn hard with no fridge/oven/hot water on tap/automatic washing machine it is perfect. All the problems are fixable, and if this is as hard as it gets we're laughing. I love driving down our road, it's like we enter another world far, far away from the modern one-and far, far better.

The chook collection is already burgeoning-we had six Australorp pullets ordered, but before they got here bought some New Hampshires, a rooster called Rodney and his four girls, plus had a frizzled Australorp thrown in. Then the pullets arrived so now they are 12. I can see this becoming an addiction. The mulch pit is taking shape, D is going to grow muscles on his muscles (i'm needed to um, supervise. Oh, who am I kidding, i'm weak!) We need to do something better than the current greywater system of running it onto the grass, ugh. (We have moved it away from the house though).

No pics, rural phone lines mean dialup only and that meanders along at about 22kb/s on a good day-bring on satellite!

But i'm loving the peace. I'm loving waking up in the morning to see trees, looking out the window from the couch and spotting a wallaby and just having time. This is it, after so long spent running around like madfolk we're here. I've even noticed my brain slow down it's frantic pace-maybe now i'll be able to hold a decent conversation without skipping around on topics, I swear people must think i'm on speed sometimes. It's good to finally feel calm again, it ended up being an impossible state of mind in suburbia.

So worth the stress and worry-at 25 I have my big dreams all done and the rest of my life to enjoy them all. Such an awesome feeling.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A poem

it's 3.23 in the morning
and i'm awake
because my great great grandchildren
won't let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do while the earth was unraveling?

surely you did something
when the seasons started failing?

as the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?

did you fill the streets with protest
when democracy was stolen?

what did you do
-Drew Dellinger, 'Hieroglyphic Stairway'.

Rather relevant to me atm as i'm starting to get into the activist side of things a bit more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The cakefest is over

I'm beginning to think that i've set myself up for an exhausting few months every years-all five kids birthdays fall between December 30th and April 5th. Add another week either side and you also have the husband's birthday, Christmas and Easter-but at least I now get a break until December!

Shorty had a pirate ship cake for his third birthday. It was pretty quick and easy to assemble, but I gave up on getting black icing-I wondered beforehand how successful tinting white icing black would be, and I don't think you could without twelve bottles of the stuff. As it was the icing started sweating black liquid whenever it was out of the fridge for a couple of minutes.
My task before the next round begins is to find a better replacement for butter cream-one that is easier to use and doesn't taste like animal fat! Since I stopped eating meat butter tastes revolting.
We also didn't do the handmade presents this year-we've had too much on our plates lately and some things had to give. But I will definitely be reinstating it from now on, giving shop presents is very unfulfilling and the two of the girls actually asked where the presents were that we'd made. No more babies so we can get back to normal life!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Now I get to REALLY go feral

The block we got knocked back on a month or so ago now has a completely unconditional contract on it and will settle in two weeks. After a saga stretching months it's a little hard to believe, I keep thinking something else will go wrong. It all turned into this really cool, old fashioned process in the end-the current owners came back, we went up to the block for a night and had a BBQ with the neighbours, we ditched the idiotic CWB and applied face-to-face with a local bank and got it with no issues-it was such a nice process compared to the usual faceless production line churning out of forms. So in two weeks we'll be out in the backblocks on solar power and tank water, with perfect peace and tranquility and masses of wildlife.

One little tiny corner in all it's awesomeness :D

Plus, not much creation has been wielded here lately-however, the new little button to your right will explain that. Lots of things have been done and are still being done to get that happening!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why am I not surprised?

That the government is spending obscene amounts of money on broadband? Hardly a pressing task IMO. But it keeps the punters happy, and that's what matters when you have a limited term.

Even worse is that it's come at the same time as the Wilkins Ice Shelf news. Which is really scary as it has climatologists saying we're hooning down the global warming path at a much faster speed than first predicted.

But i'm sure that when we're all four metres underwater we'll appreciate being able to access YouTube that bit faster.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Science mania

We went to a Questacon 'do here at the library the other day, and science is the new obsession of the house. The kids all had a ball, it's well worth going to one if you get the chance. Am not happy I didn't know about it when we were in Canberra last year!
Science of course, means experiments. This was a nice easy one to do with young kids.
The bottom is treacle, middle is coloured water and the top is vegetable oil. If you put it in in the order treacle-oil-water you get a better result as you can see the layers seperate. We then dropped in some Lego (which you can see), a marble, a frozen pea, and numerous pieces of pasta (numerous because Shorty kept dropping the ones he wanted to eat in there, forgetting he couldn't retrieve them.) They sat on different levels so we could have a good chat about weight and density, which has carried over to then talking about floating/sinking in the bath and sink.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Must chill out........

I really have to work out how to chill out and relax. I always begin to, but before I know it i'm back to doing 90 things at once, and none of them well. Cooking and gardening work well, even better when you combine them. Forrest going off to bed early has certainly helped tonight-I can actually feel myself relaxing, with the aid of a bit of JBT as background music.

The girls are obsessed with 'the olden days', and have wanted to make bread by hand for a while. As i'm still working my way back up to full bread production even with the assistance of the breadmaker we used it for the dough and did the final kneading, rising and shaping by hand. They had a ball bashing the bread around and seeing how much it puffed up.

The final result-a spinach and parmesan bloomer, made with malabar spinach from the backyard. A bit burnt on the outside but that's the oven-I hate scabby landlords who think a $500 oven will be great for their rental. They suck!

Tomorrows chill out can be to help the kids plant their flowers out-the seedlings are starting to outgrow the tray.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fluffy mail time (oh how I hate that phrase!)

These started winging (trucking?) their way to Cairns today. They've been excruciatingly painful to make so you better all enjoy them!



And here's one of our covers on Shorty at nearly three years (next week!) and around 13kgs, with a trim fitted under.
And Frosty, at 10 weeks and about 6kgs, with a big fat terry flat under.
Can't believe no-one chose the rainbow print, it's awesome!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wow, my kids are getting big

Birthdays galore here ATM-my eldest is five, my twins are four and Shorty is three in a couple of weeks. So we've been getting sugared up-luckily breastfeeding is working as a no-work weight loss plan! So after gawking at aqua's cake blog I decided to blog mine-i'm not sure why either, they look pathetic in comparison!

G wanted a fairy party, so we did the house up with garish pink everywhere. She adored it. This was the best I could do cake-wise with a four week old babe-a simple butter cake with coloured sugar for the fairy. As it was it nearly caused a sleep-deprived stress overload meltdown, it wasn't taking much at that stage.

Sparkles and Lols decided on an under the sea theme, and picked a whale and a frog (yeah, I know, you don't find many frogs at the beach. But try telling that to a three year old, water is water!) Butter cakes again, with butter cream icing. The whale was much neater, until A fell on it and squished his tail and smeared icing everywhere *sigh*

I've convinced Shorty he would like a pirate ship-it looks very impressive and dead easy, i'll leave it until next year before volunteering for something complex again!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Christmas in March?

Well, my belated Christmas post anyway. I have lotsa kids (they're great for blaming procrastination and absent-mindedness on). We decided to do a craft each day in December and i'm proud to say we actually out-crafted them! They'd stopped asking by the 17th so we didn't do any more after that-these are the children who nagged me to 'do craft' everyday before that! I didn't get pics of all the crafty stuff, and we ate the shortbread and white truffles too quickly for pics. The best bit was I didn't go into labour and miss Christmas (my due date). That was a big worry.

These took two days and glittered the entire house.
They girls found the angels tricky and Shorty found them totally impossible, but they did pretty well for 2-4 year olds.
Christmas crackers, with a homemade paper crown in each one (and other stuff which i've totally forgotten). Typically, the crowns were the hit of the day, better than any presents.
The Santas, and the hands and feet reindeer. Shorty's are especially cool :P
The masses of paper chain that I spent all December ducking around-it continued up the hallway.
Little ornaments from pipe cleaners and lace.

My contributions to the handmade gifts-fairy skirts for the girls, a cape for Shorty and wands all round. The husband made a funky dolls house but would probably kill me if I stuck up pics of it.

My favourite-that messy Santa trekked snow everywhere AGAIN! I love Christmas with kids.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why TV is good for kids

So, who's had a heart attack at me writing that title? It's actually a book, I thought i'd get it to see if it would change my mind, and started it with an open mind, really I did. Let's just say that I haven't been convinced I should race out to Harvey Norman.

The holes in the arguments are the type you could fall into and never return. For example, they seem to feel that Madonna only manages to not have a TV because she has masses of money and therefore an army of employees to help with her children. Yep, they're trotting out the tired old martyred cry of 'But the only time I get to myself is when they're watching TV!' I mean, all those poor people who raised children more than 50 years ago, it must have been terrible! The kids running around feral, constantly nagging you to entertain them, never a moment to sit down and have a cuppa........hey, wait a minute, revelation here-maybe kids could entertain themselves back then, and still could if they didn't learn to fall back on television the instant they're bored?

Or by stating that TV is a passive activity, but so is reading and a number of other things. Obviously they've never seen (or ignored) any of the number of studies that show that your body runs at the lowest pace while watching TV. While reading you actually burn more kilojoules than by watching TV. I think sleeping is the only activity that comes in under TV, but not by much.

Or by saying that BMI is totally unreliable because it can't be applied to all people in the population, using George Gregan and his 'overweight' BMI as example. When anyone who has a clue about BMI ranking knows it can't be and isn't applied to super-fit body-builder types or some ethnic groups. But if they admitted that they wouldn't be able to write off BMI as an indicator and therefore also write off the increase of overweight and obese children would they?

And my favourite, deliberately interpreting the well-documented correlational link between TV watching and attention disorders as a direct cause-effect link. As in, watch x amount of hours of TV per week and you WILL get ADD. Well, it's easier to refute something that is obviously wrong, isn't it? Morons.

And that's only one chapter. I don't think i'll bother with the rest (except the education chapter, that should be fun), as books that choose their POV then selectively search out information that supports it while leaving glaring omissions frustrate my husband-yes, I argue out loud with books ;P Pity, I agree with a lot of it, like TV is not too bad if used properly (I use the guns analogy, it's not the thing it's how you use it), but the rest is just too crap.

Friday, February 20, 2009


This picture was taken from my back door on Wednesday. Even freakier when you consider that my back door is 15 steps off the ground!

D saw it an hour or so before this, he went downstairs and made it halfway down before he saw the snake wrapped around the handrail, then throw itself down into the grass and slither off-he made it back up pretty quickly! It was pretty cool though, we watched it come the last two metres up and ended up shooing it away with the broom when it appeared it wanted to come inside.

Nowhere near as scary as this picture taken a few years back in Lilydale, Tasmania-yes, that's a juvenile tiger snake in between us and the kids. Still makes my blood run cold.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


My best friend from high school grew up in Kinglake, and moved back with her husband after they got married. And I hadn't heard a thing from her since the fires until tonight, I was starting to freak out big time. Luckily, I found out her, her house and all her family are fine, but unfortunately her parents lost their house and every single thing in it. It's made me resolve to keep in touch better, we had a falling out a while back and were just starting to get back in contact, but i'm so scatterbrained I don't hold up my end anywhere near as well as I should.

I spent the end of high school in Yea, so know many people in the fire area. So many parents of friends have lost everything, there have been some injuries but so far (fingers crossed) no-one I know lost their life. It's been so strange to see newspapers with pictures of people I recognise, to know the areas the radio reports are talking about. News is normally so arms length, you get desensitised to it, but this has really brought home the fact that it's all real and affecting many people.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dontcha hate it when.....

You buy stacks of pure awesomeness online and then have to WAIT for it to arrive before you can enjoy it? Yep, I went a bit crazy last week and ordered 31m of fabric (wow, that actually looks quite scary tallied up like that!) and am now prowling around the house in frustrated boredness because nothing else looks quite as exciting to make.

Yes, I am getting five hours straight sleep every night-I am human rather than zombie! Speaking of which, i'm eating into that five hours now-goodnight.